Over the years I have encountered many people facing a catastrophic event that threatened to tear away their foundation of faith. I have discovered, while most eventually find peace in their circumstances, there is an initial period of confusion when intense emotions crash in.
Three are seldom any quick repairs for broken hearts and shattered dreams, but it seems to help when those who are hurting find a way to organize their thoughts. This is where the #2 pencil enters the stage.
I am not sure when, or how I came to use pencils to paint a picture of faith. I recall one day as I struggled to explain how Satan warps our thinking in times of trouble, I pulled three pencils out of a desk drawer. And yes, they just happened to be #2 pencils. I placed two pencils parallel to each other about two feet apart on my desk. Then I positioned a third pencil halfway between the two.
I explained that the distance between the two pencils on the end represents the faith we stand in as we seek to follow God. The middle pencil represented a sliding scale between those things we understand about God, and those things we don’t. In my personal walk with the Lord, the things I understood about God on a normal day made up about 80% of my faith. The things I didn’t understand accounted for about 20%. As I spoke, I moved the middle pencil in my illustration to a position that represented this ratio. I also explained some people have a daily baseline with slightly different percentages.
Then I suggested when difficult trials come into our lives, the pencil in the middle begins to move. As painful questions fill our minds, we realize the things we thought we understood about God are not as certain, and the list of things we don’t understand grows. I moved the pencil to a new position to represent a ratio that was the exact opposite of the first.
At that point I shared my conviction the first ratio was closer to the truth, but the second was a warped picture of the chaos Satan creates in our souls when fear and doubt prevail. The compressed, fierce spiritual battle of the moment deludes reality and the fact we aren’t as sure as we once were compounds the problem.
The good news is, as the pain subsides, so does the delusion. This doesn’t mean things are exactly as they were. Most likely the things we know about God will reflect a more mature awareness of His grace and providence, and the things we don’t know will involve a greater appreciation for the complexity of our human experience. But we can say our faith is restored, in that its foundation is affirmed and our anxieties relieved.
Using this metaphor, where is the middle #2 Pencil in your life today? What kinds of delusions has Satan created in the midst of your pain? How do you believe God can bring peace into your life and help restore the balance between those things you do and don’t understand?
Dear God, protect me from Satan’s delusions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.